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Storm with wind and heavy snow looms for central US late this week

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Late this week, a storm will strengthen as it moves out of the Rockies, bringing windy conditions and the first significant snowfall of the season to the northern Plains.

This storm will first impact the Pacific Northwest with rain and snow beginning on Tuesday night. As the system strengthens and continues eastward, precipitation is predicted to transition completely to snow.

The center of the storm is anticipated to clear the Rockies by Thursday, bringing snow to the interior West and allowing surface winds to strengthen significantly over the northern Plains.

Gusts in some areas of the Plains and the Upper Midwest may reach 50 mph on Thursday and Friday.

"The combination of snow and strong winds could lead to blizzard conditions across much of the Dakotas and into northern Nebraska," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rathbun said.

The combination of wind and blowing snow may result in poor visibility. However, even in areas where no snow falls, the gusty winds could cause difficulties for high-profile vehicles.

While wind may pose the greatest threat, this storm will also bring the first significant snowfall of the season to many parts of the northern Plains.

"How strong this storm becomes will determine where, when and how much snow will fall," Rathbun said.

Areas as far south as Denver may have the first flakes of the season late on Thursday.

Snow will likely accumulate across the Dakotas and into Nebraska beginning on Thursday night and lasting through Friday.

Motorists traveling through these areas should be on alert for dangerous driving conditions.

Keep an eye out for electronic message signs along the Interstate; they will have information regarding any road closures, according to the South Dakota Department of Transportation.

Behind the storm, temperatures are set to plummet as wintry air filters in from the north. The weather will be particularly crisp as gusty winds continue, making the air feel much colder than its actual temperature.

"AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures will only be in the single digits and teens across the Dakotas on Friday," Rathbun said.

While Friday will have temperatures dip below average for the first time this season in many places, the chilly air mass is not expected to linger.

Temperatures will rebound toward seasonal averages over the weekend. In some cases, averages may even be exceeded.

Temperatures in Rapid City, South Dakota, are not expected to surpass 40 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday. By Sunday however, afternoon temperatures may reach 10 F above normal, into the middle 50s F.

Story written by AccuWeather Meteorologist Faith Eherts.